Remembering Helen DeVos


Helen and Richard DeVos at the opening of the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

We are saddened by the news of Mrs. Helen DeVos’ passing. Her support of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and institutions in West Michigan and beyond is cherished and will never be forgotten.

The DeVos’ incredible generosity made the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden possible. It is a world of timeless tranquility that has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors and will continue to inspire for many years to come.

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Sunrise in the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden

“While we grieve her passing, we rejoice in her new life in heaven and are grateful for the countless ways she blessed our lives. We are comforted in knowing that she was welcomed home into the loving arms of Jesus,” her family said in a statement. “We will never forget her unfailing love, strength and devotion that were truly the heart of our family.”

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend, Helen DeVos,” said Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker, “Mrs. DeVos led a life of service and distinction that is an inspiration to all people. Personally, my life has been significantly enriched by getting to know Mrs. DeVos over the years and witnessing the way she chose to live her life. From the conversations at the many cultural events I had the pleasure to see her at, to the times when I was privileged to spend extended periods of time touring Meijer Gardens with her, Mrs. DeVos was always engaging and a ton a fun to be with. Her humor and grace were truly very special. I was always very impressed by the way she took the time to greet many strangers and share kind words and make connections to mutual friends and family. Meijer Gardens is extraordinarily blessed to have her name along with her husband’s on our Japanese garden. The garden has quickly become a favorite of the West Michigan community and has attracted people from around the world. During our tours together of the Japanese garden, she would often thank me and the Meijers for the opportunity to be part of this amazing place of peace, tranquility, and harmony. We are all very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of her generosity. We will miss her and are extremely thankful we could call Mrs. DeVos a friend. Through Christian faith she has now claimed her resurrection. The rest of us are left with our memories of her and the things she has done to make our world a better place. Along with her faith journey, her greatest legacy is her children and grandchildren and their families. Dick, Dan, Cheri, and Doug’s lives are a reflection of their mother’s values, dedication to family and her example as a woman of service. Our community is enormously blessed to have all her children living here in West Michigan as leaders and committing themselves to making our community the best place to live and work in all the land.”

Hooker also shared a personal story of another time his life was changed by the DeVos family. “Twenty-six years ago my son was born 23 weeks premature and spent 99 days in what eventually became Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Many years later I toured the new Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I walked around and saw the incredible facilities and scores of professionals there to care for children and families in need. We have a resource that is beyond fantastic to serve others in times of great need. One measure of a community is how it takes care of its children. West Michigan measures very well indeed. Thank you, Helen DeVos, for the way you lived your life and for all the good works you did to make other lives better.”


Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker, Helen and Richard DeVos, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at the opening of the Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden in 2015


For more, watch this story from WOODTV8 that details Mrs. DeVos’ dedication to the arts and culture of West Michigan and beyond.

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